Existing Light Rail Systems

Austin | Baltimore | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Charlotte | Cleveland | Dallas | Denver | Edmonton | Houston | Hudson County (NJ) | Los Angeles | Minneapolis | Newark | Norfolk | Oceanside | Ottawa | Philadelphia | Phoenix | Pittsburgh | Portland | Sacramento | St. Louis | Salt Lake City | San Diego | San Francisco | San Jose | Seattle | Tacoma | Trenton

Note that projects currently under construction and projects being planned are noted on their respective pages. Use the feedback form at the end of the page to suggest updates.

  • Baltimore
    • MTA Light Rail
      • 30-mile system length, with three lines all operating on a common north-south track between Hunt Valley and Linthicum, via the west side of downtown. Short spurs to Penn Station, BWI Airport, and Cromwell
      • First opened in 1992, double-tracking work done in 2004/5 to allow for increasing ridership and higher train frequencies
      • About 35,000 daily riders
      • Extensions south, north, and a new east-west line through downtown are planned
      • Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Baltimore to advance Yellow Line project ahead of Metro extension, 7 September 2009
  • Boston
    • MBTA Green Line
      • 26-mile system, with four branches running from Lechmere, through downtown Boston, to Boston College (Branch B), Cleveland Circle (C), Riverside (D), and Heath (E)
      • Subway operations through downtown
      • Parts of system first opened in 1897
      • About 240,000 daily riders, most of any light rail line in the country
      • Extension from Lechmere to Somerville and Medford planned
    • Ashmont-Mattapan High-Speed Line
      • 2.6-mile line, running as an extension of Red Line subway from Ashmont station to Mattapan
      • Right of way is not fully separated
      • Opened in 1929
      • About 7,000 daily riders
  • Buffalo
    • Metro Rail
      • 6.4 mile line from downtown Buffalo to the University at Buffalo (SUNY), mostly along Main Street, with 15 stations
      • 80% of alignment is in a tunnel along completely separated right-of-way, with the rest along a dedicated transit mall in downtown
      • Original planned as the start of a large network, but plans didn’t pan out due to lack of fundss
      • Opened in 1985
      • About 23,000 daily riders
  • Calgary
    • CTrain
      • 30.3-mile system, with two services operating from downtown to three branches, one to Crowfoot (Red Line), another to Somerset (Red Line), and one to Westwinds (Blue Line), with 37 stations
      • First segment (part of the south Red Line) opened in May 1981
      • Most track is at grade and in its own right-of-way
      • About 220,000 daily riders
      • West Light Rail line opening in 2012, as well as new stations at Tuscany and Saddleridge. New downtown corridor also in planning
  • Charlotte
    • Lynx Blue Line South Corridor Light Rail
      • 9.6-mile line running from downtown Charlotte to I-485, with 15 stations
      • Operates in dedicated right-of-way adjacent to South Boulevard
      • Opened in November 2007
      • About 20,000 daily riders
      • Extension northeast to University of North Carolina at Charlotte planned
  • Cleveland
    • Blue and Green Lines Rapid Transit
      • 18-mile system with two branches, running from Waterfront through downtown to Green (Green Line) and Warrensville (Blue Line), with 35 stations
      • About 12,000 daily riders
      • Operates mostly in its own right-of-way
      • Opened in December 1913
      • Extension of Blue Line east to southeast Cleveland being planned
  • Dallas
    • DART Light Rail
      • 72-mile system (longest in the country) with three lines sharing a common downtown main line, with branches to downtown Garland and Ledbetter (Blue Line); Westmoreland and Plano (Red Line); and North Carrolton and Buckner (Green Line), with 55 stations
      • About 70,000 daily riders
      • Red and Blue Lines began operating in June 1996, Green Line in 2009 and 2010
      • Expansions of Blue Line underway, as well as creation of new Orange Line
      • Relevant article on the Transport Politic: First phase of new Green Line expands service to South Dallas, 13 September 2009
  • Denver
    • RTD Light Rail
      • 39.4-mile system with five services from downtown Denver (three branches: one at Union Station (lines C and E), one through a downtown loop (lines F and H), and another to 30th and Downing (Line D)) to suburban destinations at Littleton (Lines C and D), Lincoln (Lines E and F), and Nine Mile (Line H), with 36 stations
      • About 70,000 daily riders
      • First line opened in 1994
      • Major extensions underway with new lines heading west and north under FasTracks program
      • Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Denver FasTracks problems expose complexities of building transit at the regional scale, 7 December 2009
  • Houston
    • METRORail
      • 7.5-mile line from downtown to Fannin South, via Museum District, Rice University, Reliant Park, with 16 stations
      • About 40,000 daily riders
      • Opened in January 2004
      • Extension of existing line north, as well as construction of five other lines, underway
      • Relevant article on the Transport Politic: After years of conflict, Houston’s transit system advances, 28 May 2009
  • Hudson County (NJ)
    • Hudson-Bergen Light Rail
      • 20.6-mile system, with three services, one from North Bergen to West Side Ave in Jersey City (Yellow Line); another from 22nd Street in Bayonne to Hoboken Terminal (Blue Line); another from Hoboken Terminal to North Bergen (Green Line), with 23 stations
      • First branch (most of the Blue Line) opened in April 2000
      • About 40,000 daily riders
      • Extensions north and south being considered
  • Los Angeles
    • Metro Rail
      • 87-mile system, with four lines, one running north-south from 7th Street-Metro Center to Long Beach (Blue Line); another from Pasadena to East L.A. via Union Station (Gold Line); a third east-west from Redondo Beach to Norwalk (Green Line; and a final east west from downtown to Culver City (Expo Line). Total 78 stations
      • First line (Blue) opened in 1990
      • Green Line entirely elevated; Blue Line mostly in its own ROW, Gold Line has some street-running segments, with a tunneled section too
      • About 135,000 daily riders
      • Recently completed: Gold Line Eastside Extension (15 November 2009) – 6 mile line from Union Station to East L.A; Expo Line (28 April and June 2012) – 8.6-mile line from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City
      • New Regional Connector, Crenshaw Line, and various extensions in development
      • Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Gold Line Extension Ready for Service in East Los Angeles, 13 November 2009
  • Minneapolis
    • Hiawatha Line
      • 12.3 mile line, from downtown Minneapolis to Mall of America, via Airport and Bloomington, with 19 stations
      • Opened in June 2004
      • Mostly elevated outside of downtown, but street-running downtown
      • About 32,000 daily riders
      • New lines to St. Paul and Southwest Minneapolis currently in planning
  • Newark
    • Newark Light Rail
      • 9.9-mile line, with two services, one from Grove Street to Newark Penn Station (City Subway), the other from Penn Station to Broad Street Station (Broad St Line), with 16 stations
      • City Subway opened in 1935, Broad Street Line, entirely on the surface, opened in 2006
      • About 19,000 daily riders
  • Norfolk
    • The Tide Light Rail
      • 7.4-mile line run by Hampton Roads Transit
      • Runs from Eastern Virginia Medical Center to Newtown Road, via Downtown Norfolk, with 11 stations
      • Began service in 2011
  • Oceanside
    • Sprinter
      • 22-mile line from Oceanside to Escondido, with 15 stations
      • Operates as a DMU service with diesel-driven trains in former freight railroad right-of-way
      • Opened March 2008
      • About 8,000 daily riders
  • Ottawa
    • O-Train
      • 5-mile line from Bayview to Greensboro, with 5 stations
      • Operates as a DMU service with diesel-driven trains in former freight railroad right-of-way
      • About 10,000 daily riders
      • Redevelopment of existing busway into light rail planned
  • Philadelphia
    • Subway-Surface Trolley Lines
      • System extends from Center City Philadelphia to West Philadelphia, with shared downtown tunnel section and then five branches, to Overbrook (Line 10), Angora (Line 34), Yeadon (Line 13), Darby (Line 11), and Eastwick (Line 36), with 16 major stations and dozens of surface stations
      • Other than in downtown tunnel, most of the system operates in street right-of-way
      • Opened in 1906
      • About 56,000 daily riders
      • Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Transit for a future Philadelphia, 8 April 2009
    • Media-Sharon Hill Line (Routes 101 and 102)
      • Two-service system extends from Market-Frankford Rapid Transit Line terminus at 69th Street in a shared central segment to Drexel Hill and then two branches, one to Media (Route 101) and the other to Sharon Hill (Route 102), with 52 stations
      • Services operate in their own rights-of-way, except for segments in Media and Aldan
      • Opened in 1906
      • About 7,000 daily riders
  • Phoenix
    • METRO Light Rail
      • 20-mile line linking Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, via SkyHarbor Airport, with 28 stations
      • Opened in December 2008
      • About 35,000 daily riders
      • Extensions throughout the region currently in planning, with existing segment serving as central line
      • Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Phoenix Light Rail Opens, 28 December 2008
  • Pittsburgh
    • The T Light Rail
      • 26-mile system, with four services from downtown to South Hills Village and Library, with 63 stations
      • First line opened in 1981 along old trolley tracks; Overbrook Line extension reopened in 2004; North Shore extension opened in March 2012
      • Most services in their own right-of-way, with a tunnel under downtown
      • About 25,000 daily riders
  • Portland
    • MAX
      • 53-mile system, with four services from downtown to Expo Center (Yellow Line), Airport (Red Line), Clackamas Town Center (Green Line), Gresham (Blue Line), and Hillsboro (Blue Line), with 84 stations
      • About 115,000 daily riders
      • Two downtown right-of-ways, one north-south along 5th/6th Avenues (Green and Yellow Lines), the other east-west along Morrison and Yamhill Streets (Red and Blue Lines)
      • First line (Blue Line) opened in September 1986
      • Most recently completed: Green Line MAX LRT (12 September 2009) – 6.5-mile line from Gateway Transit Center to Clackamas Town Center
      • Extension of Yellow Line to Vancouver (WA) and Milwaukie in planning
      • Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Portland’s New Light Rail Line is Welcome News, But It’s Not Routed as It Should Be, 11 September 2009
  • Sacramento
    • RT Light Rail
      • 36.9-mile system, with two services running from downtown to North Sacramento (Blue Line), South Sacramento (Blue Line), and Folsom (Gold Line), with 45 stations
      • First line (Blue Line) opened in March 1987
      • Services are in their own rights-of-way, with some sections operating in the street adjacent to traffic (mostly downtown) and others in independent rights-of-way
      • About 57,000 daily riders
      • Extension of Blue Line south being planned, as well as Green Line north to Airport
  • St. Louis
    • MetroLink
      • 46-mile system, with two services running in a common central section through downtown St. Louis and East St. Louis; branches to Airport (Red Line), Shrewsbury-Lansdowne (Blue Line), and Shiloh-Scott (Red Line), with 37 stations
      • First line (a part of the Red Line) opened in July 1993
      • About 62,000 daily riders
      • Extensions through St. Louis city and further into suburbs currently in planning
  • Salt Lake City
    • UTA TRAX
      • 19-mile system, with three services running from downtown to University Medical Center and Sandy Civic Center, with 28 stations
      • First line (Blue Line) opened in December 1999
      • About 45,000 daily riders
      • Major extensions to Mid-Jordan, West Valley City, and Airport currently in planning
  • San Diego
    • Trolley
      • 53.5-mile system, with three services running from downtown to Old Town (Blue Line), Santee (Green and Orange Lines), and San Ysidro (Blue Line), with 53 stations
      • First line (Blue Line) opened in July 1981
      • Most services in their own rights-of-way
      • About 93,000 daily riders
      • Extension to University City currently in planning
  • San Francisco
    • Muni Metro
      • 71.5-mile system, with six services; all share downtown tunnel under Market street; branches to Sunnydale (T-Third Line), Balboa Park (M-Ocean View, K-Ingleside, and J-Church), Zoo (L-Taraval), and Ocean Beach (N-Judah), with 33 defined stations and dozens of surface stations
      • Service through the downtown subway began in February 1980 with the N-Judah line
      • Outside of downtown, much of the system operates in the street as a streetcar system
      • Around 160,000 daily riders
      • Extension through new downtown Central Subway currently in planning
  • San Jose
    • Santa Clara VTA Light Rail
      • 42.2-mile system, with three services, one running from Mountain View to Winchester, via downtown San Jose (Green Line); another from Alum Rock to Santa Teresa, via downtown (Blue Line); another as a shuttle between Ohlone and Almaden (Orange Line), with 62 stations
      • First line (Green Line) opened in 1987
      • About 38,000 daily riders
      • Extensions throughout the region currently in planning, though funding isn’t available because of expense of BART to San Jose
      • Relevant article on the Transport Politic: San Jose plots a renewal of its struggling light rail network, 29 September 2009
  • Seattle
    • Central Link Light Rail
      • 15.5-mile line from Downtown to SeaTac Airport, via Tukwila, with 13 stations
      • First section opened in July 2009
      • Operates in its own right-of-way, with much of the line elevated and the downtown section in a reconstructed downtown bus tunnel (built in 1989)
      • About 24,000 daily riders
      • Extension north to University under construction; lines north to Northgate, east to Bellevue in planning
      • Relevant article on the Transport Politic: Seattle’s Light Rail Opens, Redefining Life in the City, 20 July 2009.
  • Tacoma
    • Tacoma Link
      • 1.6-mile line from Tacoma Dome to Theatre District, all in downtown Tacoma, with 4 stations
      • Opened in August 2003
      • About 3,000 daily riders
      • Extensions of line both north and south in consideration
  • Trenton
    • River Line
      • 34-mile line from Trenton to Camden, with 20 stations
      • Operates as a DMU service with diesel-driven trains in former freight railroad right-of-way, with short street-running sections in downtown Trenton and Camden
      • Opened in March 2004
      • About 9,000 daily riders

The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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